I did it, I guess - I got in a new draft of my dissertation that is up to 7,440 words out of 10-15,000. I've been working on it since Thursday. By my standards, I didn't do enough during my weekend (Friday - Monday) but I did at least a few hours a day including many yesterday and nearly nonstop today from 10am to about an hour shy of 12 hours later, with a little room for short breaks. I was bad and even worked on dissertation during my lecture. Seems silly to have only accomplished 2,240 words but I suppose that's the size of a medium essay (which I have absolutely spent entire weekends on) and there is a lot to be done in the background before writing...
I got an email from Nick-the-supervisor during lecture and in it, he said something like, "but there isn't much time left!" and I thought I was going to lose my delicate breakfast in the middle of lecture. I know I should expect this from him since he had Claire give in a first draft of her entire dissertation a month and a half early, but somehow I didn't expect it just out of the blue in an email response to my citation analysis questions. I wanted to thwack him upside the head a bit and tell him, "Yes, I do know there isn't much time left. Do you think you're speaking with someone sane? I know there are 43 days left until the deadline. I know that tomorrow there will be 42, and it's the Adams Answer to Everything so I will be going to a cheap production of a London show with a friend; and I know that when I come home, I'll be sleepless or inundated with dissertation nightmares again." I know there's not much time left - but I also know that there are many people who haven't started writing yet and are still on data collection. The fact that he has a procrastinator with panic disorder halfway done is impressive. I know I'm being oversensitive.
Spoke with Claire and CJ after lecture in the Student Union over lunch. I was zoney, less from my 4hrs of sleep and more from the state of my mind. At some point I must have inadvertently taken up pinching myself again, because when I looked down at my arm it had all those familiar red near-welts on both sides of my forearm and my arm was stinging. I just...I couldn't believe it; I couldn't believe it had all sneaked up on me again. When Claire was texting her boyfriend, CJ and I chatted about it for a minute, and I told her that I had noticed over the weekend that I had started smacking the back of my head into things if I was sitting with something hard behind me, like I used to when I was overwhelmed with my mind and wanted out. It was never and still is not intentional - I catch myself after a little while and make myself breathe, specifically think of something far outside my normal mind cycles.
I told her I wasn't happy. She told me, "You're happy, you're just having a bad day!" She informed me that she could tell I was stressed because I had more spots than she could ever remember seeing on me. I wanted to scream and cry that I am not happy and she sees me well enough to notice spots but not deep enough to see that this is not me when I am happy. Instead, I zoned out again and soon enough I was back to work with no hard surfaces behind me, biting my lip (thank goodness I have a lip ring to keep me from biting too hard) and watching my hands, making sure I didn't start pinching or scratching myself again.
And I know it isn't healthy, I know it isn't good, I know I shouldn't do any of it - but in those moments the 'I' who knows these things is gone, off paying attention to Goethe, and the 'me' who is controlled and trapped with anxieties and feelings of inadequacy is left trying to cope. I am trying to cope in healthy ways - I have written letters and stories, I have watched shows, I have meditated (or attempted it), I have played ukulele for a long while straight, I have attempted (and failed) to get myself drawing and creating again, I have eaten healthy and cooked and kept myself near friends. I'm trying. When I went for counselling in first year, I found nothing around here that was consistent and helpful - nothing really compares to the amazing therapist I had back home.
Claire and I went back to hers after her meeting with him. We read through his comments on her draft and were plainly outraged - he was downright rude in some of them, essentially screaming in barely-legible and often-not-legible text with words capitalised and underlined for emphasis; it read as if he was just yelling at her. She was nearly in tears; I had to write her a limerick about Nick and some name-rhymed anatomy to cheer her up. I continued working, and finally I decided that I would stop and leave the analysis and discussion of the section I was working on for after Nick tells me on Thursday what I've done wrong with my citation analysis. I emailed the draft away. Claire and I went out to pick up Chinese and watch television instead. I am so afraid of anything I will get back.
And I know it isn't fair that Nick raves about my writing and finds Claire's lacking. I also know it isn't fair that I envy her ability to just write something down because she needs to write something down, without the idea that it has to be perfect. I envy the moments she doesn't sit there frozen, unable to type, worrying her lip to death. Most days we just wish we could combine the two of us - me for my writing and organisations (I live by headings and subheadings) and her for her sanity, ideas and ability to simply do.
When I told someone the other day that I was lonely, she laughed. She mentioned something about how many people I know and I nearly cried at the response. It's that old 'alone in a crowded room' feel, though this one isn't for wish of some romantic love to suddenly appear... It doesn't matter how many names are on my IM list, Facebook, phone, email, whatever if I don't feel able to reach out - and even if I do, communication is hard. Questions like "how are you?" become terribly difficult because I don't want to be a burden with the true answer - once perhaps but not when it has been going on for months - and any conversation after a non-truth is exhausting. Communication is something I usually excel at, so when I can't I am acutely aware - and that's when I am lonely.
When I told Mark the other day that I was depressed, he laughed. He patted my back once and I thought I felt the pierce of the patronising. He's kind enough. I remembered my old history teacher asking me, quite innocently, "Kiwi, do you know the symptoms of depression?" I didn't lift my eyes from the book as I listed them off; when I was finished I blinked and slowly looked up, tears in my eyes. She asked me if I had anything I needed to talk about, and that she was here; somehow she got me up and headed toward the hallway. As soon as we were in the corridor I fell apart in her arms, crying and gasping and grasping at how tight and restricting and dark my life felt between the too-short smiles that left no real impression. I know what depression feels like in my life. Happiness is something I usually excel at, so when I'm not I am acutely aware - and that's when I am depressed.
I know that tomorrow I will crack jokes and laugh and smile, and it will fool Natasha if she is not paying strict attention. I know that any moment I am not cracking a joke or laughing or smiling, I will be lost in my mind with tears or anger threatening, schooling my features to stone as I taught myself when I was 15 and take up accidentally when similar intense feelings arise. I'm trying not to feel hopeless because I know, logically, that I will get through this dissertation and I will get through this coursework and I will get through these exams, no matter how terrible.
I don't know how to end this because it hasn't ended in me yet. But I'll say that I didn't want to post something like this, only I have arrived at that place where I need to because the thoughts are running rampant in my brain and I need them out; somehow my written journal didn't work. I don't want to be the moody teenager, and I'm so frustrated that just remaining 'okay' requires so much effort through this university year - I have to stay on constant vigilance in my own mind, and this weekend I let it slip. But it's exhausting.
Now, who knows, tomorrow night I may have the most squee-tastic post livejournal has ever seen...because even in my depressions, those moments in which I can achieve happiness I momentarily excel, but these thoughts will all be there scratching away at the back of my brain; it keeps the joy from sticking the way it normally would, keeps smiles heavier than they used to be so they fall off faster. And it's not as though I want to burden you all with the idea of reading such squee posts and thinking, "Behind that, she's depressed."
I guess I just want to have some people I'm not fooling anymore, because in real life there's so few people who will listen to me as if I know what I'm talking about in regards to myself and my situation - because I do know a lot of people and because I am capable of being perky and always have been in the past and because yes, I suppose I am capable.
Maybe I am capable. But I'm not feeling particularly strong. I'm watching myself carefully. I think...I think I could use some hugs.
Please don't worry about me too much. I'll be fine in the end - I always am. I knew this would be the most stressful academic year of my life to date and I knew that all my old problems with terrible stress would arise again. Now that I've spotted them I guess I've just got to work through them. I did it once - I know deep down I can do it again.
A woman is like a teabag. You never know how strong she is until she gets into hot water.